THE achievements of Marlow HC men’s second team would be enough to give anyone the bends.
They have risen rapidly through the leagues with an unprecedented six promotions in a row, and if that wasn’t enough to make them all feel a bit heady then Saturday provided the ultimate buzz when they won the greatest accolade ever bestowed on the club.
They were crowned England Hockey’s Team of the Year at a prestigious ceremony at Bisham Abbey, making up for the disappointment of 12 months ago when they made the shortlist but lost out to Beeston.
However, after climbing from MBBO Regional Division Five to Premier 1 in the blink of an eye, not even the thoroughbreds of Beeston could deny them this time.
Trevor Jackson, who along with Richard Clee and Robert Gerrits has played every season of the rise, said: “It’s a big moment for the club. We went there with high hopes last season after five consecutive promotions and were so disappointed not to win it.
“But we sat around that table and said the only way we’re going to go one step better is by getting six promotions in a row. It gave us a bit of resolve to go and do it again.
“We thought that six would be enough. In the back of your mind you’re thinking that surely with six promotions we must win it this year.
“The stats are compelling and the numbers tell their own story. But nothing is certain until your name is read out and when it was I think we all stood up and punched the air.
“It’s a great end to the year.”
The team’s journey began in 2008/09 when they won the MBBO Regional Division Five.
They haven’t paused for breath though, with four titles and two runners up finishes taking them straight through to MBBO Regional Premier 1.
From 130 league games played, they have won 103 with a win ratio of just shy of 80 per cent. They have also scored 533 goals in that time, averaging more than four goals a game, and just to cap off their achievement Marlow 2s also reached the last eight of the National Second Team Cup and won the Bucks Cup.
Jackson said: “Each year we thought, ‘well, that’s it, this year will be a season on consolidation.’ But we’ve surprised ourselves by running straight through the leagues.
“Special praise should go to Richard, who dropped down to the second team to rescue them when they were on a bit of a slide.
“He steered them through the first three years and made them a team everyone wanted to play for.”
Clee said: “It has been the Indian summer of my hockey playing life and one that I would never have imagined six seasons ago when I stepped down from the first team to captain the second team.
“We were disappointed not to win the award last year, so it was a sweet moment to hear Simon Mason [ex GB keeper] read out our name.”
Much of the team’s success has come on the back of the talented hockey players at Sir William Borlase’s, who have flourished at Marlow thanks to the work Kevin Chappell has done to build links between club and school.
The pupils have been the bedrock of Marlow’s success, but Jackson admits there might be a pause in the production line next season with six of the team going off to university.
The current U14s are very strong though, and the three musketeers will be there to fight the cause until they arrive.
Jackson said: “I think we probably all feel like we should step down, but I think we’ve still got more to offer. We’ve got another season in us, definitely.
“With so many players leaving it might really be a year of consolidation. But after that, who knows?”